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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

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F-35 Cancelled, then what ?

Old 11th Jul 2015, 05:46
  #6721 (permalink)  
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I am deeply suspicious of any aircraft which needs a $400K pilot helmet....

I wonder how much in-life servicing these expensive helmets will require.

As for believing Lockheed-Martin, I recall a Brit on the C-130J programme resigning in disgust from a well-paid job with L-M, "Because I'm not prepared to carry on telling lies for you lot!", or so we were told...

View manufacturers' statements with caution!
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 11:44
  #6722 (permalink)  
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Glaar, you run the risk of making me look like an optimist. We do know that the Marine combat radius spec is all high-altitude - see this chart, old as it is:

F-35KPP20070402.jpg Photo by SpudmanWP | Photobucket

We do know that the F-35B has about the same internal fuel fraction as most other FJ types (around 0.3).

The status of drop tanks has been a little uncertain. They were shown in early briefs but were certainly dropped for the F-35A service-entry configuration around 2007. However, Israel indicated that they wanted tanks, and Elbit's Cyclone subsidiary had a design - but that's gone quiet lately.

There's been no recent visible activity regarding tanks for the F-35B, but FWIW, there is this:

F-35 external fuel tanks.... ? FighterControl ? Home to the Military Aviation Enthusiast
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 14:32
  #6723 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by gr4techie
Does the above simulation have any credibility?
Well, it's (to quote the article) "a hyper-realistic tactical PC simulation/wargame".
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 14:58
  #6724 (permalink)  
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To be fair, Nitro, some of the high-end "PC games" can crunch data as fast and in much the same way as military-grade sims of a couple of decades ago, and I know of at least one defense company that has used H3MilSim quite seriously. One advantage is that you can perform a reasonable campaign-level sim and avoid the huge secret-squirrel complications that arise at a national level.

It does all come down to open sources and some educated guesswork - but then, that's what you have on at least one side, unless you are very high in the secret squirrel tree.
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 18:13
  #6725 (permalink)  
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Re Sims. If it was me, I'd want to see how the results changed when you perturbed the parameters slightly. You'd want to know if the outcome was very dependent on any of the variables that you've had to make guesses about.
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 19:19
  #6726 (permalink)  
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Speaking of Command, BAE has just signed a deal with the developers.

Matrix Games - Slitherine and BAE Systems to start collaboration
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 23:03
  #6727 (permalink)  
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The sim on question is available for purchase on the Internet. It is a very interesting game and allows the player to try all sorts of tactics in all sorts of environments with all sorts of aircraft and all sorts of weapons, etc, etc. It costs about €80 and is a beautifully designed piece of software.

It models the aerodynamic performance (not the aerodynamics) of the aircraft, their fuel, number of weapons and such.

It models missile flyouts.

It models loads of stuff and makes me think I could spend a few hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon running loads of engagements against my favourite enemies with a glass of wine in my hand.

IT DOES NOT model the full 3D RCS of all players dynamically (or in any way really, given the availability of such data, not to mention their sensitivity). It does not model missile datalink during flyout, exhaust plume interference, differences between skid-to-turn and Roll-to-turn, command link roll off due to the position of the missile relative to radar scan, anaprop..... And that's just stuff during post launch command and guidance.

So what assumptions does the simulation make? A single RCS figure for and aircraft based on "it's the size of a marble"? I don't know. But I can promise you all the dynamics of an active, long range, radar and command guided missile are NOT modelled in this simulation.

So how credible is it? If you are simulating this type of engagement with the above limitations, not very.
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 10:50
  #6728 (permalink)  
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Simulation indeed..

Indeed, CM.

I noticed, from the simulation screen shot, that those F-35 were to return to HMS QE2?

I wonder, in that simulation scenario, who would have got there first, those F-35 or a swarm of BrahMos...
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 11:29
  #6729 (permalink)  
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Personally I have a toe in the against camp. I don't doubt the majority of what you say- and I'm sure the aircraft will do a good job for a while- If the stealth, networking and sensors work as advertised it will be a "game changer"

But what I can't shake is the thought that the energy performance of the aircraft is not what it should be - and this comes directly from the compromises made to make a common VSTOL version.

If I had had the chance of playing god and was program director I would have:

1) Killed the B at birth and recommended a separate lower tech VSTOL machine for the Marines
2) improved the air/air capability of the aircraft - at the expense of its air/ground capability if necessary.

Would you have produced the 3 versions just as they are today or how would you have changed the specs?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this?


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Old 12th Jul 2015, 12:14
  #6730 (permalink)  
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 14:17
  #6731 (permalink)  
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Would you have produced the 3 versions just as they are today or how would you have changed the specs?
If I was in charge and could have over ridden Congress, yes, I would have taken a different approach, especially if I had the benefit of hindsight. For starters I would have stuck to the paradigm of separate A/F-X, JAST, and ASTOVL programs, with A/F-X defining the non-STOVL airframes, ASTOVL defining the STOVL airframe, and JAST defining the systems to be integrated into all the airframes. And A/F-X would almost certainly have been (or at least included) a two-engine, two-crew layout.

But it's rather easy to say what might have been. And totally pointless. It seems to me the point now is so to focus an what we have and make the most of it. And by that I mean what we really have, and not the cripple that a few folks insist we have.
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 14:30
  #6732 (permalink)  
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Yes, I would expect that would be the case. Here are a couple of papers relative to Concurrent Engineering, the first being the development leading to production of the Navy F/A-18 E/F and F414 engine that dates to 1997.
May I respectfully point out that F/A-18 E/F was a development of the fully mature F/A-18 A/B/C/D? Such a program is ideal for concurrent engineering. And even though it was a development of a fully mature airframe E/F still ran into some serious snags. The same applies to the F414 engine which was a development of the fully mature F404.

The JSF on the other hand used NOTHING that was fully developed, much less mature. Not even such "simple" things like comm radios and data links were developed, never mind mature. Even its APG-81 radar was based on the APG-77 which was still not fully developed when JSF became the F-35 program. Concurrent Engineering is very high risk when developing a new technology airframe, never mind when simulataneously developing a new tech airframe, new engine, new stealth tech, and new systems.
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 15:17
  #6733 (permalink)  
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Perhaps I can add a couple of observations that would assist the discussion.

First is the presumed role of 'Congress'. In my direct experience in DC, the people pushing the JSF concept were not 'Congress' - is was the Office of the Secretary for Defense, known as OSD. This is essentially the 'Centre' staff for the Pentagon, and they had, and still have, real power in the area of programme decisions and even more importantly, budgeting. In truth, Congress don't have the depth of technical analysis required to reliably develop their own programme assessments - they rely heavily on what they get from OSD via the Oval Office.

The concepts for JAST and JSF were, in large part, developed within and promoted by OSD. And the main driver for this push was a perception that trying to go forward with single service programmes for large, twin engined tactical aircraft (mostly with two seats) was always going to be unaffordable. I heard senior OSD staff refer to the F-22 as a 'failed program', and looking at the original versus actual ISD and costs for the aircraft, I couldn't disagree. (I would add that the F-22 is (in my view) a great design and a fabulous performing aircraft - but unaffordable, even for the USAF).

OSD, USAF and USN technical assessments, based on ASTOVL and many other test programmes, was that engine and airframe technology wasn't capable of producing a viable twin engined, two seat, STOVL airframe. As a result, OSD staffs prepared the briefs that pushed for a single engined, single seat, aircraft, using STOVL as the prime reason for that configuration. All these years on, some posting on this thread will disagree with that assessment. All I can say is that is what I saw happen.

OSD, the USAF and the USN had also studied (and modelled at some length) the relative impacts of airframe and avionics systems on combat efficiency. The USMC had also seen what the RN were doing in the mid 90s with the Sea Harrier FA2 - a badly limited airframe given a massive combat efficiency boost via an excellent radar/missile combination. All of that fed into the early iterations of what eventually became the JSF requirements set. This has led to the sort of aircraft that has emerged from the programme. Again, OSD people were key players in this process.

Second, concurrent engineering. I was at Fort Worth in the early days of the programme, and I didn't detect any huge focus on 'concurrency'. I did pick up that the programme had set itself some incredibly ambitious goals (and dates) for freezing the airframe and systems design. In part, this optimism was based on the depth of the X-35 programme, and the other precursor technology programmes the US had carried out. Finally (and in hindsight mistakenly) there was an assumption that new CAD systems would give LM's design team a much higher 'right first time' figure.

All that unravelled in 2004, when the customer told LM that the aircraft was badly overweight. What followed was a huge structural redesign, but the schedule screws were kept firmly 'on' - my own assessment of what followed( and that's all it is) is that LM were simply not able to get the aircraft to the level of design maturity (stability) in the time allotted. I'd also add that LM had some weaknesses in the slightly arcane areas of configuration control and change management. (I'd further add that they were by no means alone in this - BAES had learned some hard lessons on Typhoon by this time).

In my view, concurrency was something that happened to the programme, but was not planned. With hindsight, they should have slowed the move to production more than they did. But then LM Fort Worth are an outfit who are dominated by their production people. (again, my own view).

The key point (at least in my view) is that the US has 'bet the farm' on the F-35. It will be made to work, and (again my own view) it will be a very successful aircraft, mainly due to its highly advanced sensors, communications, displays and weapons systems - things that (for obvious reasons) don't often get very detailed attention on this forum.

I hope these musings help a little - and I very much endorse the pleas from other (better) contributors for civility and patience. None of us know it all. Some of us know a little. Some know a lot (not me, by the way). On an open forum, we all get a chance to contribute. We can all learn. Bad manners and sarcastic points scoring will deter those (like me) who just try to help. Let's keep it nice, shall we?

Best Regards as ever those who are working the hard stuff in the free world under the scrutiny of a free press,

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Old 12th Jul 2015, 18:25
  #6734 (permalink)  
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I would like to point out a couple of things:
The development of the F-18 E/F did come from the earlier F-18 airframes. But, there were changes. The length increased 4 feet, the height by a 1 foot and the wing span by 4 feet (a new wing). The maximum gross take off weight increased by 14,100 pounds and the range increased by 200 miles. This is from the US Navy Fact File. Also, from the file:
The F/A-18 E/F acquisition program was an unparalleled success. The aircraft emerged from Engineering and Manufacturing Development meeting all of its performance requirements on cost, on schedule and 400 pounds under weight. All of this was verified in Operational Verification testing, the final exam, passing with flying colors receiving the highest possible endorsement.
The first operational cruise of Super Hornet, F/A-18 E, was with VFA-115 onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) on July 24, 2002, and saw initial combat action on Nov. 6, 2002, when they participated in a strike on hostile targets in the "no-fly" zone in Iraq.
This was written in 2009. There always are some problems but seemingly no serious snags on the F-18 E/F program.
As far as the engines are concerned, the F414 is a derivative engine of the F404 but with significant changes to gain an extra 4,300 pounds of thrust per engine.
One of the changes made in the F414 engines was to use one piece blisks in the LP compressor, similar to what P&W did on the F135 engines to save weight.

The F135 engine is a derivative engine from the F119 engine used on the F-22. The F135 engine is not a completely new from scratch engine. There are differences in the rear end due to afterburner configurations and total engine length due to engine placement in the airframe. The F135 engine is about 135 pounds heavier than the F119 engine due to the addition of a second stage added to the LP turbine. The F135 was designed to provide 8,000 pounds additional thrust compared to the F119 engine. So we can discuss whether or not the F119 engine was/is mature or not, but it seems to be performing pretty well with no serious snags in terms of problems.
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 19:25
  #6735 (permalink)  
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The key point (at least in my view) is that the US has 'bet the farm' on the F-35. It will be made to work, and (again my own view) it will be a very successful aircraft, mainly due to its highly advanced.... communications,
Ummmm. MADL which can't talk to any other platform and, until some future block has no SATCOM? As a result of which standalone, non-stealthy, datalink/comms platforms are going to have to be procured? Which have to penetrate far enough up threat to relay the F-35 gathered int to other platforms?

I could go on, and the problem is similar to that of the F-22 which prevented it being deployed on joint ops for decades ( and the 30 year saga of rolling out L16 etc). But to boast about it as a success.....
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 20:42
  #6736 (permalink)  
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Very accurate post, Engines.

By the way, I was rooting around in the 'tubez the other day and found this:


It also locates key decisions (including the single engine) within the OSD. However, one antecedent that is easy to overlook receives little attention in this document: the export angle.

Back in 1987, I recall, Weinberger memoed the Navy and AF to the effect that their new stealth aircraft (ATF, NATF, ATA) would all be too costly and too classified to replace the Viper and Hornet on the export market. That kicked off a series of studies that led to the Japanese F-2 and the Super Hornet... But neither was really expected to be the full replacement. That became part of the JAST plan.
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 22:07
  #6737 (permalink)  
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I'd like to come back. I think what I said was that in my view (and that was deliberately phrased), the F-35 will be a success. I don't think I 'boasted' in any way. Sorry if I gave that impression. I stated my view. There's a difference. I try not to bash my head against walls.

On comms, the MADL link was designed to allow F-35s to fight more effectively as a team. I think it's going to do that quite well. (Note - just my view). Whether it's adopted more widely across other platforms is another matter. But at present, it's on the way to meeting the requirement it was designed for.

LO, thank you. Yes, you are quite right - the OSD plan also aimed at generating an aircraft that was more likely to meet a wide range of needs and so win export orders. Affordability was a key metric. F-22's lack of export orders shows they might have been right - again, purely my view.

Best Regards as ever to those having to make big calls in the early years,

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Old 12th Jul 2015, 22:31
  #6738 (permalink)  
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Thank you, Engines, for another good account of the route to were we are. Carefully crafted as ever.

MADL is, as you describe, essential to networking F-35s and making the sensors more effective. In terms of passive sensors it is the key to passive detection, ranging and targeting. It is, in essence, a core element in the capability and it is a great strength.

Right now it also precludes easy integration with other platforms. That runs contrary to many years of work to try to hook platforms into any kind of network - Link 16 was the vehicle of choice - but we struggled due to funding (the radio wasn't that expensive), integration and clearance costs.

Now, which way do we go? Start from scratch and have all the other platforms move to MADL, buy into the "portal" to connect the two networks or accept that we may have two, unrelated networks.

Yes, I know there are other data transfer methods.
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 08:30
  #6739 (permalink)  
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I thought I'd come back to you on one aspect - but with the alert warning that I'm no comms specialist.

Your last post seems to infer that the F-35's MADL system precludes use of other systems such as Link 16. Again, as far as I know, the aircraft has a fairly comprehensive range of comms links, including:

SATCOM receive
Link 16
Secure VHF/UHF (incl. Havequick)
Plus others

So, unless I have missed a key point (highly possible) the F-35 can use Link 16, while using MADL. I don't think it's an either/or situation.

I do recall that at one stage on the programme, the stock answer to any question about how data was to get on and off the platform was: 'We'll use Link 16'. That view was somewhat altered once a quite excellent pair of young RAF aircrew came over to Fort Worth and told an agog LM Mission Systems team just how Link 16 operated in the real (NATO) world.

In my earlier post, I was trying (and not very well) to make the point that the whole point of MADL was to allow F-35s to move very large amounts of data around an F-35 formation. To some extent, the issue of how to reconcile physical bandwidth limitations with the ever increasing desire for more and more 'data' to be passed back to central commands is not one that F-35 could solve on its own.

I do know that data communications linkages were closely examined and modelled in the many sets of scenarios run in the US (and also the UK) during the build up to release of the JORD, which specified the required data linkages. Again, as far as I know, none of those comms/interoperability requirements were 'traded away' during development.

Sorry if my lack of knowledge here is too apparent,

Best regards as ever to those making the ones and zeroes move around,

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Old 13th Jul 2015, 08:40
  #6740 (permalink)  
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Thanks, Engines. Yes, I agree entirely with your premise there. The only snag with the other comms is the stealth issue, which is MADL's niche. My interest here is how best to share the air picture which F-35 can build without many or any emissions without blowing the whole game. Perhaps under such circumstances they simply don't and just get on with their day one missions in isolation.
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